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Friday, August 29, 2014

The Liquor Store Loses One More Customer- The Sunday Collage

I've never really cared for funerals. Especially Catholic funerals. I can't imagine my friend Al liking Catholic funerals either but unfortunately as life and luck would have it, this funeral was his.

I listened attentively at the funeral, all 90 minutes of it. I was in awe that a Catholic Priest could pretend to know someone and speak so glowingly about him. It wasn't a very personal pitch and it felt a little too generic and thus appropriately, albeit late in the service, this Father finally came clean and admitted that he had only been with this church a year and didn't know Al at all. I think the part that bothered me the most was how this Father kept saying Al led a "full" life.

I suppose you have to say things like that. Funerals they say, are for the living.

I'm not sure I could have rendered a service like that. And as I sat there and listened I couldn't help but think that Al would have agreed with me. I don't think Al would have liked it either. Al never stood tall with the bullshitters. That I think, would even include those wearing black robes.

The Al that I knew was about 6'2" tall and 350 pounds. I met him in 2001. He was kind of an inquisitive, cautious guy. He didn't really like new people but maybe that was just me. It took him a few months to warm up to folks. He was intelligent, loyal to a fault, and when he laughed- it was a belly laugh. A sort of gruff, nasal, chuckle. I can hear it as I write this. Al was a pretty fair pool player and so was I. We often played to a draw- and we played a lot of pool.

One night, Al got us tickets to the "fights" at a downtown bar. These were fights where two local yayhoos who didn't like each other- jumped into the ring together and tried to beat the shit out of each other. The referee was half drunk, so were the combatants. On this particular night, I bought one of the fighters 6 shots of Jagermeister while he waited for his fight to take place. He was drinking a fair amount of beer also. When he jumped into the ring against a much smaller opponent- I told Al I would bet him 50 bucks that the small guy would kick the big guy's ass. Al didn't even hesitate to take the bet- it looked like such a mismatch. The big guy didn't even last halfway through the first round. When the small guy won, Al wheeled around and said that our bet was "bullshit" and "how the fuck did you know that?" When I told Al about all the drinks I had bought the guy at the front of the bar, Al let out that chuckle first and then roared with laughter. He knew I wouldn't make him pay.

If Al was great at anything, it was drinking. We drank every night. Al loved "Firewater" back then, 100 proof cinnamon schnapps. He drank it like water. I spent a few years and God only knows how many nights and camping trips- drinking with Al. As much as Al loved his wife and kids, I could tell they were feeling estranged. I knew we both had a problem.

Both of us were becoming alcoholics if we weren't already. In 2004, I talked Al into trying a rehab and I very nearly drove him there. He did it on his own. I think he managed to stay sober for 15 months. A little over a year.

I continued to drink. In early 2006, I wasn't seeing Al as much as I used to. One night in a Nevada border town/casino, I saw that Al had started drinking again. A year later in October of 2007, it would be my turn for rehab.

I packed my Jeep up and called Al. I said I had one seat available in my Jeep and I was headed for New Orleans to get sober. I invited Al. Al told me couldn't afford to go. I told him he couldn't afford not to. He said that his income was the only income that his family had and that he just couldn't leave. I think now that I should have struck a deal with his boss to bring back a sober employee. That is the guilt that flows within me. It is bullshit of course. I've never saved anyone that wasn't intent on saving themselves first.

I only saw Al a few times after I got sober. He of course, was drinking heavier than ever. They tell us sober folks that we have to change playmates if we want to live. And so we do.

Alcoholism is a disease that tricks the alcoholic into thinking that there is no other way to live our lives. Alcohol lies to us. Alcohol for an alcoholic becomes our chief coping mechanism until one day when we reach that point when alcohol no longer works and our lives just begin to implode around us. We reach the "jumping off point" when we can no longer envision our lives with or without alcohol. Some call that our bottom. We either get sober and change our entire lives or we descend into madness, getting locked up in institutions like jails, prisons, and hospitals- or we eventually die. Many alcoholics are clinically depressed and struggle with other forms of mental illness as well. I can't help but wonder how many millions of people have suffered from depression, people who never really get properly diagnosed or treated, and then die alcoholic deaths.

You see, there is no doubt in my mind that Al loved his wife and kids. The problem with alcohol is that it fights it's way to the top of an alcoholic's priority list. Alcohol takes control. In the end, alcohol shoves family and friends out of the way. It isolates us from our families. We no longer participate in relationships. We don't help raise our kids, our relationships crumble, and all we care about is ourselves. Pretty soon, the people who would love us, get exhausted, fatigued, and they marginalize us in order to emotionally survive. Our family members are forced to retreat. They cannot participate in our lives and they cannot break the stranglehold that alcohol has on us. This can go on for years and decades. That is the nature of the disease. Only the survivors feel guilty. The survivors wish they could have stopped us or intervened. If only we would have tried this or tried that- they think. They feel cheated because we kicked them to the curb in favor of booze. We didn't have time after school to help you with homework, to go to the park, or to spend a little time with you. All we care about in the end is drinking. That is the nature of our disease.

You cannot stop an alcoholic from drinking. You do not have that power. You must get ok with that because we will leave you no alternative. Some of us go down with the ship.

I know all that.

Al lived for nearly 7 more years before a series of medical events claimed him early. Alcoholics die so many ways. Traffic accidents, shootings, falls, suicides, medical complications like diabetes, heart disease, burst blood vessels and intestinal bleeds, strokes, cancers of the throat, pancreas, liver. There are a multitude of medical problems that are aggravated and made worse by alcohol.

But we don't talk about that. Obituaries don't tell those nasty truths. As a culture, we agree to lie about all of that because the drinkers don't want to stop drinking. When diagnosing the potential alcoholics in ourselves, most everyone thinks they are immune.

I've been missing Al since 2004. I miss all the fun we used to have. I've missed teasing his wife and messing with his kids. But alcohol changed all of our relationships. Al's wife grew older, his kids grew up, and his alcoholism grew worse. So did mine. We all have choices to make and after I got sober - I had a few choices of my own to make. Unfortunately, hanging with my old friend Al wasn't going to be possible. I had to accept that and the possibility that Al would never stop drinking.

I will never understand how some of us find our way out and some of us do not. 

I thought about all of that as I sat there in that pew. I thought about how much my life has changed. I got healthy. I run and lift weights, ride my scooter, play golf when I want to, go to the track when I want to and I never get sick like I did in my drinking days. I haven't had 10 shitty days in 7 years. Who can say that? I have everything I want. I covet no one. I still live with the guilt of a self centered life- which I can't go back and change. But I know where it went wrong. I don't have to repeat history. I have the best relationships that I've ever had and every once in awhile, I think about the people in my life before I think about myself. That's a fucking miracle. Drinking stole a big chunk of my life and sometimes I think- when something is stolen from you- you have to steal it back.

My life back in those drinking days was pretty empty. Doing nothing, getting drunk and passing out every evening. That was my life. That was Al's life also. Had Al been sober and attending my funeral, I wonder what he might have thought when some unknown Father proclaimed that Brian had lived a "full life"- cut short at age 52.

I know Al. I think he would have said, "bullshit." Goodbye my friend, I shall see you in a better place.




NBC's Clinton Bribe Now Paid in Full

Just in case you were still wondering whether politicians and the media were truly in bed together. Sheep.

From the Economic Policy Journal:

Friday, August 29, 2014

Labor Day News Dump: Chelsea Clinton is Leaving Her Fake Job at NBC

New York reports:
Kicking off the annual Labor Day Friday News Dump, Chelsea Clinton has announced, via People, that she will no longer pretend to be a reporter. The once (and future?) First Daughter has been a “special correspondent” for NBC News since 2011, when she was dubbed, following her debut, “one of the most boring people of her era.” For the occasional feel-good segment or interview with the CGI Geico gecko, Clinton earned a reported annual salary of $600,000, or approximately $26,724 for every minute she was on-air...
“Chelsea's storytelling inspired people across the country and showcased the real power we have as individuals to make a difference in our communities,” said NBC News senior vice president Alex Wallace.
 Check out this link:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Giving the Devil His Due

Several months ago, I bookmarked the single best essay I have ever read on the Fed, the 2008 meltdown, and how the New York Times provided cover by issuing some of the most effective propaganda ever delivered. This piece is simply the most logical piece that I have ever read on the subject. When you stop and think about it, the New York Times, Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve all sleep in the same bed. That's how propaganda begins.

I snatched this from the comments. Dare I say it's prima facia true?

Element's picture
Hitler pointed out in 1923 that there are three main types of people in society.
The first-type is by far the largest group, those who are dull enough and credulous enough to believe everything they are told without resistance.
The second-type is a significant minority who believe most things up to a point, but are smart enough to detect poorly concealed lies, but then end up believing almost nothing once they detect that they are being deliberately lied to by the State and media, so often become radicalized and the State struggles to manage and control this type.
The third-type is a tiny minority who believe nothing at all, they examine everything each time, take nothing at all for granted, and are difficult to fool for long.
Hitler identified that only the first type mattered politically, in a democracy, and that all propaganda should be directed towards them. The second group could be suppressed and maybe coerced into compliance, or imprisoned, etc. The third type were very valuable, but dangerous, and if they would not cooperate it was best to be rid of them.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Real Obamacare Disaster Is Still In the Making and Thankfully, We Don't Have Long to Wait

I've been on top of our national healthcare debacle from the beginning it seems. When I say beginning, I mean that era in time when most workers had health plans or you could purchase a decent one for about 250.00 a mo. So I guess I am talking around 10 years ago.

So when they rolled this whole mess out and I read up on it- there were three absolutes that I laughed at. 1. There was no way young healthy people were going to buy this unless they got taxpayer subsidies. 2. The poorest, most unhealthy people, would take advantage of free health care and start fixing everything that was wrong with them- which in a humanitarian sort of way- I actually kind of like. But my favorite part of this crappy law was this. 3. Nobody will sign up for Obamacare until they are sick- thus making them instant liabilities while contributing little or nothing to the plan to begin with.

So the 3 stories I'm about to tell you are true. If these stories are representative of what is going on in the U.S. healthcare industry currently- and I think they are- then you are about to witness a supernova event in the form of skyrocketing premiums. There is no doubt in my mind that the Obama administration will exert every dirty trick they can muster to try and stop the premium supernova. You can't underestimate those assholes either- they've been successful so far.

Here then are my three stories. I am going to summarize them in chronological order.

Early this year (Feb.) I had a friend come up to me and tell me that he had just signed up for Obamacare. He had lost a lot of weight and he looked like hell. About six weeks later he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. They tried a number of aggressive tactics and hospitalization but the cancer had spread and by late May- my friend died. He was 55. I have no idea what his medical bills came to but I have to believe they were north of 100,000. To my knowledge- he had only been insured for 5 months.

I have another friend who obtained Obamacare (silver plan) in April who had several maladies and was admitted the day after his Obamacare waiting period was over. He had DVT and spent 5 days in the hospital. All of the tests, hospitalization, and aftercare amounted to 35,000. He had paid one month's premium.

Everyday I go to the gym and it's a neighborhood gym. I had been lifting with a guy, on and off, for 6 months and he suddenly came up missing last month. When I saw him just a couple of weeks ago, he told me that he had a bilateral hernia which he had gotten in the gym. He had immediately signed up for Obamacare and is waiting until he is insured to have the proper diagnosis. Since he is a former pharmacist I have to think he already has the proper diagnosis. For this piece, I researched that surgery in Boise and the procedure will cost anywhere from 5,000-15,000.  

So those are 3 people who have paid something on the order of 3500 bucks worth of premiums and who have or will receive 150,000 worth of health care services. In the case of my first friend, since he is deceased, there is no possibility of recovering his health care costs. That money is lost.

Without young, healthy people donating their money- Obamacare cannot exist. With a sea of formerly uninsured people demanding services, and only sick people signing up and becoming instant liabilities- this is a three pronged disaster in the making. 

I read an article last week that placed the average healthcare premium rising at roughly 9% this year. Although that number was produced by actuaries and health care experts- I have to tell you I think that is utter bullshit. I think real numbers are going to be north of 25%. You want to hear a collective howl go up? Try three years or so of that and a collective doubling of premiums from existing levels and suddenly- nobody can afford Obamacare.

With any luck- we won't have long to wait.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Consent of the Governed- The Sunday Collage

The Declaration of Independence is a relatively simple and well written document which was signed by 56 men. There are a couple of opening paragraphs, a giant list of grievances, and then a closing paragraph right above their signatures. Here then, are the opening paragraphs. Please pay close attention to the second one.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Among other things, the Founders were upset that they had been ordered to pay (paltry by today's standards) 3% taxes by a King on a completely different continent. Taxation without representation.

So what representation do we have?

When your government ignores the will of the people and sets about the task of imposing monumental taxes and seizing better than 1/2 of all of your income- that isn't a reasonable tax- that is thievery.

That is not consent. Nobody has consented to that.

In America, a majority of us were against Obamacare. Not only did we fail to give our government consent, but they imposed this tax on us. Then they had it rubber stamped- as though the Supreme Court- was the final say on the matter.

The final say occurs when the people of America- the ones who are getting fleeced- have had enough. I am one of those people.

I am being governed by a golfing President mired in at least 5 scandals, an Attorney General who is clearly failing to do his job on multiple fronts, and a Congress bought and paid for by corporate interests- a Congress whose members offer no help (and then only to rich crony capitalists) help that is implied just so  long as you bring a large checkbook to help them get re-elected. Throw in an unelected, privately owned Federal Reserve Bank which refuses to be audited and which counterfeits our currency at will.... and voila!

That is our current governance.

I didn't consent to any of that. I want a President that represents "we the people" instead of special interests like health care insurers, bankers, or other corporate interests. An Attorney General who enforces the law EQUALLY. A Congress that is term limited, reformed, and who will work on behalf of the millions of us- the vast majority- who are not being represented at all. I want a national currency, issued by our government and limited in quantity and thus quality, and I want the Federal Reserve as it stands now-abolished.

Government never sits down and negotiates. It never thinks it has to. Government is the study of incremental ism, the slow erosion of individual freedoms whereby governments confiscate your wealth, your liberty, and your way of life. They do it bit by bit, slowly, so that nobody becomes immediately aware.When you finally realize that they have literally stolen and confiscated everything you possess it's often too late. I think we are pretty close to that now.

Our government doesn't negotiate. They arm themselves. Have you noticed all of the military police uniforms, military armament, M-16's or AR-15's, tactical vehicles and MRAPS? Governments don't always believe they have the consent of the governed- rather they think that is un neccessary. Instead, they believe they have the upper hand, the power, and the might to impose their will on you.

It has begun. They know what's coming. They are arming themselves and they are going to call on those police agencies they have armed. They are going to label dissenters as criminals like they have Edward Snowden. They have the capability to spy on everyone. They are going to confiscate every last bit of wealth that we have while trying desperately to hold on to their power because governments do not negotiate with the governed. Negotiations only occur after a great deal of bloodshed. The founders knew this. They knew when they signed that document that the King would view every one of them as traitors and show them no mercy.

They had courage back then. Or at least the ability to understand that the King really didn't give two shits about having the consent of the governed.

I don't think there is any better example of arbitrary and capricious government than the one we have now. It is interesting to watch this unfold, week after week. I am kind of proud of the fact that I never fell for the government's bribes. I didn't participate in SWAT teams- military style clothing- and I certainly wouldn't have taken or tried to use an MRAP. I was amazed at the amount of pressure my peers exerted on me to participate- they truly make you feel like an outsider when you don't- and they weren't afraid to call you various names. In the Treasure Valley- every city thinks they have to have their own SWAT team and MRAP. It is a horrific waste of taxpayer money because those services are seldom needed and they are duplicated everywhere.

One day all of that is going to be used against honorable- but fed up people. All the pieces are in place now. The government isn't going to negotiate. It isn't going to take responsibility for a 60 trillion dollar debt (all liabilities) or a health care system that is collapsing in front of us- which was never much more than a half assed attempt by the democrats to buy votes. I am actually a little worried about how our country is going to look 50 years from now.

I wonder how much more "consent" the "governed" can extend.